The wind farm needs ongoing maintenance to ensure the blades keep turning and the turbines keep generating power. This takes a team of highly skilled people with varying technical disciplines working in close cooperation. The Sheringham Shoal team is based at purpose built offices and stores, Wind Farm Place, just outside Wells-next-the-Sea.
Completed in January 2013, Wind Farm Place is the purpose built Operations & Maintenance Base for the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, situated 3 miles south of Wells-next-the-Sea. A low energy consumption building, Wind Farm Place comprises 900 square feet of office space, and 400 square feet of warehousing.
The Sheringham Shoal team moved into their new permanent home in February 2013, and it is from Wind Farm Place that all operational and maintenance activities are planned and coordinated. The large storage facility is used for spare parts and tools.
The base is home to approximately 40 permanent employees including engineers, marine coordinators, planners and support staff. It is from here that the wind turbine technicians transfer offshore.
The wind farm technicians arrive for a 30 min safety briefing before departing by mini bus for the Outer Harbour in Wells-next-the-Sea where they board a personnel transfer vessel for their 60 minute journey to the wind farm field.
All field logistics are coordinated from Wind Farm Place. Scira has a sophisticated marine coordination centre which monitors the weather conditions using three weather forecasting systems, ensuring that technicians only transfer offshore when it is safe to do so.
The marine coordination team also constantly monitors the movements of vessels and personnel offshore, using an automatic identification system (AIS) which tracks the location of all workers and vessels in the field. The marine coordinators also maintain contact with the vessels in the field by VHF Radio. Specialist IT equipment has been installed at Wind Farm Place to ensure these vital communication lines are constantly available.
Sheringham Shoal has a dedicated team of turbine technicians who are responsible for the maintenance of the wind farm’s 88 Siemens 3.6MW wind turbine generators.
The primary role of this team is safe and efficient maintenance to ensure that the turbines can operate to their maximum capability at all times, and a sophisticated SCADA system monitors the wind farm on a 24/7 basis.
As well as taking care of any corrective maintenance that may be required from time to time, the team undertakes a full service of each turbine on an annual basis. This usually involves a four man team of technicians who spend four to five days undertaking oil changes, gearbox and generator alignment and filter replacements.